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Jermell Charlo looks to further jolt 154-pound division in Santa Cruz-Mares co-main

Jermell Charlo’s reach toward boxing elite continues against veteran gatekeeper Austin Trout in the June 9 co-main event at Staples Center.

World Boxing Council light-middleweight champion Charlo (30-0, 15 knockouts) has posted impressive back-to-back knockouts against Charles Hatley in April 2017 and Erickson Lubin in the first round in October.

The Showtime-televised card is headlined by the rematch between Southern California-based World Boxing Assn. featherweight champions Leo Santa Cruz and Abner Mares, who staged a gritty battle for city bragging rights in 2015 at the same arena.

Charlo’s appearance also is significant in that it points him toward a possible showdown later this year with unbeaten two-belt champion Jarrett Hurd.

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The 28-year-old from Houston confronts a veteran in Trout (31-4, 17 KOs) who’s a former World Boxing Assn. 154-pound champion and has a victory over former four-division champion Miguel Cotto and a tightly contested loss to Canelo Alvarez on his resume.

Trout is challenging for a title for the third time in his last four fights. He dropped his last two title bids to Hurd and to Charlo’s unbeaten middleweight twin, Jermall, in a 2016 bout at 154 pounds.

“I respect Charlo because he didn’t have to take this fight. Now it’s time to get it on,” Trout said. “When I fought his brother, I remember people counted me out and said history had been made before I even stepped into the ring. I’m here again to try to stop the ‘Charlo Show’ and start the ‘Trout Show.’ ”

Jermall Charlo is being mentioned as a possible opponent for Alvarez if talks to make a rematch against three-belt middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin aren’t successful.

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“Me and my brother talk the talk, and we walk the walk. From this point on in our careers, we’re going full force, and it’s going to be nothing but knockouts,” Jermell Charlo said at a media event earlier this month in Los Angeles.

Both fighters are managed by the reclusive Al Haymon but are not contracted with any specific promoter. Promoters Eddie Hearn and Bob Arum have expressed interest about adding both fighters to their promotional stables.

Jermell Charlo v Mario Lozano
Jermell Charlo, left, lands a punch to the head of Mario Lozano on Dec. 13, 2014, in Las Vegas.
(Ed Mulholland / Golden Boy via Getty Images )

“I’m glad that they’re looking at me as one of the faces of boxing. That’s the reason they’re coming to me like this,” Jermell Charlo said in a conference call with reporters this week. “But that’s not something that’s on my mind right now. I’ve got to definitely take care of this fight, and then I will worry myself with a promotional contract.”

Meeting the savvy, defensive-minded Trout is but the latest test for Jermell Charlo.

“The Charlos go into every fight with a target on their back. They know their opponent will be in their best shape possible,” said Richard Schaefer, who’s co-promoting the June 9 card. “That is exactly the personality of Austin Trout and what makes him such a dangerous opponent, [being someone with] years of experience in big fights to fall back on. Jermell knows that, and he will be ready. I know these guys can’t wait to face each other on June 9.”

Charlo won his belt with a knockout of John Jackson in Las Vegas in 2016.

“We’re ready to keep putting on shows for everyone,” Charlo said. “My brother just did his thing in Brooklyn, and we’re taking it to the West Coast. I love Los Angeles. I live here and I love training here. Me and Jermall both have knockouts at Staples Center, and we’re going to turn it out on June 9.

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“I didn’t have to go through what Trout had to in his last big fight against Hurd. I’m the fresher, younger fighter. I don’t take away anything from what he’s done in his career, but I have my own career and legacy, and he’s standing in my way.

“Every fight in my life is important because the man standing across from me is there to beat me. Kobe Bryant used to talk about how he knew everyone was going to come at him extra hard, whether it was practice or a game, because of who he was and the status he had. I know that I can’t take anyone lightly.”


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